Vayam’s village volunteers have scored a massive victory in making our democracy work. The RTI Satyagraha that was launched in April by 700 tribal citizens has finally succeeded. These citizens were seeking a vital piece of information that the government was expected to give proactively. The government (i.e. Committee headed by District collector) defied the people by giving irrelevant answers and pressurizing the appellants during RTI hearing. People wanted to know why their rights to ancestral land were denied despite the law being in their favour. The first RTI applications were filed by 1272 people. 457 followed up rigorously and filed the first appeal. When the first appeal didn’t deliver, village assemblies met and decided to send 10 representative appeals to the State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC). People contributed money for traveling of these 10 representatives.
The SCIC heard the appellants and gave a verdict that all 1272 people must be given the information they had sought. The PIO (public information officer) of the concerned offices were given show-cause notices; i.e. they have to explain why they couldn’t give information; failing which they will be fined heavily. The PIO was also ordered to pay Rs. 2,000 each to all 10 appellants as compensation for making them file appeals.
We thank Shailesh Gandhi, ex-CIC and RTI activist for his phenomenal role. Cheers to Vayam! Cheers to Democracy!
We thank our friends in media for a good coverage:
the Hindu: Tribal people use RTI for info on land titles, MoneyLife: RTI battle of Jawhar tribals get a fillip, the DNA: Put forest land info on website for tribals, the Times of India: Tribals to get info through RTI, the Mumbai Mirror: Finally, Thane tribals to get info about land titles, Lokmat: आदिवासींनीही वापरला आरटीआय, वयममुळे मिळाला न्याय, and Loksatta for appropriate publicity to this success of democratic struggle.